Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2015 Honda Fit: A Great Thing in a Small Package

The subcompact car market used to seem as if the automakers were sending buyers to the penalty box, making really small cars that didn't have much to offer in the way of comfort or style.
Those days seem to be over, thankfully, and it may be due in large part to the Honda Fit.

When the Fit made its debut a few years ago, it seemed to boldly state that it wanted subcompact drivers to have some practicality, and a little bit of fun, with their cars.

Since then, the Fit has only gotten better.

For the 2015 model year, it gets a full makeover, most notably with its new styling. The Fit now has a much more aggressive and sporty exterior appearance.

In fact, during our weeklong test drive, we noticed a few folks turning their heads to check out the car.

There are sharp, curving lines at the car's rear and a black grille and more pointed headlights in the front. There's also a more aerodynamic shape to the car, which aids fuel efficiency.

It's a nice move by Honda's designers, who have developed a reputation for being rather conservative. Or, who knows, maybe the designers have been coming up with cool stuff like this all along, but the Honda honchos have quashed their efforts at creativity.

The body of the new Fit is shorter, but the wheelbase has actually been extended and widened, with the end result being an increase in overall passenger room. Honda says the new Fit includes an added five inches of rear passenger leg room. That change might have shaved a bit of space from the front passenger area, and it did rob a little from the rear cargo area, but those decreases are minimal and not detrimental.
Plus, for more cargo space, you can fold the back seats up to carry taller items. When the seats are folded, the Fit has 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is grand.

A backup camera is standard in the Fit, and optional is the LaneWatch system, which gives the driver a dashboard screen view of what's going on in the right lane when the driver turns on the signal to make a right.

Honda has what it calls its Earth Dreams engines, which are aimed squarely at touting their strong fuel efficiency. The Fit has one of these, a 1.5-liter four cylinder that makes 130 horsepower and comes with a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission.
The manual model gets 29 mpg city, 37 highway and the CVT gets 32 and 38. The LX trim model, thanks to some engineering tweaks, gets 33 and 41 with the CVT.

One minor issue we had with the Fit is that it's a bit noisy. Sonically, it reminds you a bit of driving in a jeep or a small truck. And truthfully, the ride is not the smoothest you'll find.

But if you're looking for an economical car that also is practical, do not let those issues dissuade you from looking at the Fit.

The Fit starts at around $16,000 and ranges to around $21,000.

This car proves that in some cases, you really don't have to pay a lot to get a lot.

Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 Honda Accord: Hard to Beat this Sedan

The Honda Accord is among the most popular sedans of all time, and the 2015 model year version gives no indication that the car will lose that status anytime soon.

With solid fuel economy, a roomy interior and a great range of safety features, there is a lot to like about the Accord.

There aren't many changes for this model year, after the big overhaul the Accord got for the 2013 version.

The exterior of the Accord retains its understated styling, avoiding the bolder, more sweeping lines of some of its sedan competitors. But that's not to say the Accord is unattractive. It has a neat, simple style that has its own appeal.

The Accord comes with standard 16-inch wheels, or you can opt for 17- or 18-inch alloys.

The interior is where the Accord really scores some points. It is roomy and comfortable for passengers in front and rear. 

And thanks to the remodeling of a couple of years ago, the quality of materials on the dash and on trim areas is better than ever. 

Cargo space is also plentiful, at 15.1 cubic feet.

Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, USB/iPod port, an 8-inch color touchscreen, Pandora Internet radio compatibility and dual zone climate control. Navigation system, leather seats and heated front seats are optional.

 The Accord is a big winner in the safety department, being named a top safety pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and getting five stars, the most, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It's top safety feature, in our opinion, is LaneWatch, which is making its way through the Honda lineup. When you put on your turn signal to make a right turn, the dashboard screen shows what's coming from behind on the right side, thus eliminating the blind spot problem there. 
There is also a standard backup camera. Options include lane departure warning and forward collision warning systems.

The Accord's base engine is a 2.4-liter four cylinder that makes 185 horsepower (189 in the Sport Sedan model) and is linked to a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission. A 3.5-liter V-6 is also available; it makes 278 ponies and has a six-speed automatic. 
Fuel economy is solid, with the four-cylinder with the CVT getting 27 mpg city, 36 highway. 

The Accord starts at a little under $23,000 and ranges to about $34,000.

For a reliable, safe and fuel efficient sedan, the Accord is a splendid choice.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Test the New Ford F-150 this Weekend

Ford is giving the public a sneak peek at its newly refreshed F-150 pickup at venues across the country. Ford is calling the truck the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 ever.

The F-150 has a military-grade aluminum alloy body construction with a lighter frame that includes a greater amount of high-strength steel.

The truck offers four engine choices, including a new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6.

There is also a BoxLink system that lets users secure ramps, storage bins and bed dividers that they are hauling.

The tailgate remote lets users lock and unlock the gate by pressing a button on the key.

Ford says the truck has a best-in-class 3,300-pound payload capacity and 12,200-pound towing capacity.

If you want to check out the F-150 this weekend visit this site to find an event near you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prepare Your Car for Winter

When it's freezing outside, a breakdown could become far worse than a mere inconvenience. To help prevent car trouble, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests you or your mechanic follow these 12 checkpoints to winterize your vehicle:
  1. Engine antifreeze. Check levels and add more, if necessary.
  2. Battery. When starting the car, pay attention to see if it starts without hesitation. Check positive and negative terminals for corrosion and powdery buildup. The terminals may need to be cleaned, or it could be time to replace the battery.
  3. Brakes. Check for excessive wear and add brake fluid, if necessary.
  4. Exhaust system. Repair or replace any leaks or crimped pipes.
  5. Fuel and air filters. Replace them according to your vehicle's maintenance schedule.
  6. Fuel. Always keep plenty of gas in the tank, both to avoid running out and to prevent fuel lines from freezing.
  7. Heater and defroster. Test both systems to make sure they blow warm air. Testing an electric defroster (found in many rear windshields) might require the help of a mechanic, or you could simply wait for the next time the windshield fogs up.
  8. Lights and flashing hazard lights. Check and replace any that are dim, fogged or not working.
  9. Oil. Check the level and add oil, if necessary. You can find the recommended level in your owner's manual.
  10. Thermostat. Watch the temperature gauge on your dashboard; it should stay near the center line under normal driving conditions. If the needle goes much higher or lower, it could be a sign of a faulty thermostat, which could lead to engine trouble.
  11. Windshield wiper equipment. Repair any problems and maintain the proper level of washer fluid. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with a solution for cold weather, which can be purchased at most auto parts stores.
  12. Tires. Replace them if they are excessively worn. All-weather radials are usually adequate for winter conditions, though some especially inclement regions have laws requiring vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires.

Friday, November 7, 2014

2015 Honda Crosstour: A Roomy, Functional Sedan

The Honda Crosstour is a midsize hatchback sedan that is roomy, powerful and functional.
For the 2015 model year, not much changes with the Crosstour. It still comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 193 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 278 horsepower. The four-banger comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 has a six-speed automatic.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Electric Vehicle Sales Surging in Georgia

Electric vehicle sales have risen rapidly in the past couple of years in Georgia, thanks to tax incentives and the money that is saved from not having to visit the gas pump.
In the first six months of 2014, electric vehicle sales accounted for one out of every 60 vehicles sold in the state, according to Solar Energy USA.
The group cited the increasing number of electric vehicles on the market (think Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius plug-in), the ability to drive in HOV lanes regardless of how many passengers you have, an increase in the number of charging stations and a $5,000 state tax credit that, when combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit, makes electric vehicles very affordable.